On Thursday in New York City, about 400 workers from McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Yum! Brands are striking in a bid to call for higher wages.
The employees are seeking a pay raise to $15 an hour and want to be able to form a union. Currently the minimum wage in New York is $7.25 an hour.
“By far, it will be one of the biggest actions that fast-food workers have taken in this country,” said Jonathan Westin, the executive director of advocacy group and organizer New York Communities for Change.
A similar strike was held in November, and organizers are hoping that some restaurants will be forced to close today because they will be missing so many employees. About 60 restaurants, including Burger King, Domino’s Pizza and Papa John’s, are expected to be affected.
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“At several of the stores we will have the majority of the workforce in the stores out on strike,” Westin said. “It will be difficult for businesses to continue as usual.”
“I’m fed up and I’m asking for $15 an hour and to create a union without intimidation,” said Tabitha Verges, 29, who has worked at a Burger King in Harlem as a cook and cashier for about four years. “I can barely get by. I borrow from people to pay my bills. I’m trying really hard not to get on welfare.”
Verges was one of the workers to walk off the job on Thursday, Bloomberg reports.
“Employees are paid competitive wages and have access to a range of benefits to meet their individual needs,” McDonald’s spokeswoman Heather Oldani said in an e-mailed statement. She added that most McDonald’s stores are owned and operated by independent business people.
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Last month New York lawmakers passed a measure that included raising the state’s minimum wage to $9 an hour over three years.